Parker Solar Probe
Illustration of the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the SunJohns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

NASA's Parker Solar Probe will swoop through the Sun's outer atmosphere 24 ties in its seven-year science mission and engineers just installed 1.1 million names for it to carry on its journey to study the star.

"Parker Solar Probe is going to revolutionize our understanding of the Sun, the only star we can study up close," said Nicola Fox, project scientist for Parker Solar Probe at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland. "It's fitting that as the mission undertakes one of the most extreme journeys of exploration ever tackled by a human-made object, the spacecraft will also carry along the names of so many people who are cheering it on its way."

According to a NASA release, the general public was invited to send in their names so that it could be carried along humanity's first attempt to touch the Sun. A total of 1,137,202 names were submitted and they were all loaded on to a memory card. The mission is scheduled for launch on July 31 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The memory card was placed on a plaque which is dedicated to heliophysicist Eugene Parker, who theorised the existence of Solar wind.

Apart from the list of names, the memory card also has photos of Parker, professor at the University of Chicago, along with a copy of his 1958 scientific paper. The plaque reads- "The Parker Solar Probe mission is dedicated to Dr. Eugene N. Parker whose profound contributions have revolutionized our understanding of the Sun and solar wind. 'Let's see what lies ahead' Gene Parker, July 2017"

Parker Solar Probe
In addition to a chip containing submitted names, the plaque installed on the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft also contains a dedication to and quote from Eugene Parker, the mission's namesakeNASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman